Eric Butterworth Speaks: Essays on Abundant Living #52
Delivered by Eric Butterworth on August 20, 1975
Epictetus once advised that if you are robbed you should always remember that peace of mind is more valuable, than any article you have been relieved of. Plato likewise taught that nothing in the affairs of man is worthy of great anxiety. Worry is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do but it won’t get you anywhere; it is stewing within doing; it is mountain climbing over molehills. The Bible carries many prescriptions on this topic such as, “I sought after the Lord and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears.” There is nothing new in all of this, but it is a subject that needs frequent reiteration.
We are all more or less aware that fear and worry sap strength, disturb and confuse minds, interfere with doing our best, and prevent us from making effective decisions. More and more, we are coming to recognize that fear and worry actually initiate organic changes, fostering disease and infirmity. More and more doctors are talking about the existence of mental epidemics of adverse emotions such as fear, commenting that in many cases the health authorities should look beyond vaccines for things like flu. It has been observed that widespread worry about an epidemic marks the lowering of natural resistance to disease. This is sometimes called “psychic infection”. An amusing sidelight to this area is that symptoms of colds and flu strike most frequently on Monday, with the unwelcome prospect of a five-day stretch of tiresome work.
Here is a startling statement for you: Trouble doesn’t cause worry, rather you worry by choice and by habit. Too many hold the idea that man’s existence is governed by chance, and that when difficulties come, man can only accept them. One woman expressed it this way: “When the Lord sends me tribulations, it is my duty to tribulate.” One man, making a perfectly serious statement from his bed in a hospital asked, “But if I don’t worry, who will work out my problems for me? How can anyone exist these days without worrying?” This victim of his own anxiety was hospitalized with ulcers—he could not live with his worries nor could he live without them. Many people feel that they cannot help but worrying, and this is utter nonsense.
Nobody and nothing can make you worry. You worry simply because you have determined that that is how you will meet your difficulties. Refuse to push the worry button. To keep yourself from worrying, you must give up the desire to worry. Believing that you have good reason to worry is simply giving yourself a reason to make yourself so sick and upset that you will not be able to reason clearly and effectively.
Some of us have conditioned ourselves to meet experiences in a consciousness of worry; we depend on it and fall back on it and crave it like alcohol or coffee or cigarettes. We are uneasy going through an experience without it. One man said that he had been a pack-a-day smoker until he read reports of what tobacco could do to the body. That made him so nervous that he upped his daily smoking to two packs.
Chronic worry indicates a lack of focus and perception. It indicates that we are concentrating on what we do not have instead of on what we have—dwelling on our weaknesses instead of on our strengths. In effect, we are seeing the hole and not the doughnut. Certainly there are bleak spots in everyone’s life, but there is also a great deal in life to be thankful for. I love Thoreau’s thought along this vein:
“A delicate flower had grown up two feet high, between the horses’ hoofprints and the wheeltrack. An inch to the left or right would have sealed its fate, as would an inch taller, yet it lived and flourished never knowing the danger close at hand; it did not borrow trouble nor invite an evil fate by apprehending.”
Certainly a great deal of self-discipline Is required to erase fear and worry and to change one’s entire way of thinking and reacting. But since when were we human beings not supposed to be disciplined? Many of us are too lax with ourselves, finding it easy to let our emotions run away with us, indulging our fears and worries spoiled children. Sometimes we need to have a stern talk with ourselves, taking a hard look in the mirror and stating that there will be no more bowing down to whims of fear. You may not be terribly convinced by this technique at first, but keep working at it and it will have an impact. You must determine whether you are going to be part of the problem or part of the solution.
Paul Dubois, a prominent Swiss psychotherapist, used to advise his patients to hold in their minds a number of “healthy words”, repeating them over and over. He advised them to open the window each morning upon waking, breathe deeply, and repeat certain words until the mind was full of life: “invulnerable”, “unconquerable”, “fearless”, “victorious”, “wonderful”, “vibrant”, “inexhaustible”, “limitless”. You are not going to overcome fear and worry until your mind is flooded with that which makes fear and worry unthinkable. Self-hypnosis and will-power alone will not do it; you must achieve a new sense of interrelatedness with the spiritual process. Confucius once said, “A man filled with truth hath power over heaven and earth, God and Devils; nothing in the universe can influence him, water and fire cannot cause him to fear.” When you are even the tiniest bit conscious of your oneness with universal mind, your ability to call upon it for anything you need will make a new person of you; gone forever will be fear and worry.
Dr. Jacques Loeb of the Rockefeller Institute conducted tests upon parasites found on rosebushes showing that even these insignificant, lowly creatures have the means to tap universal power for the resources to meet an unusual need. Potted rosebushes were brought indoors, placed before a window, and allowed to dry out. The tiny parasites, thus deprived of the succulent leaves, developed wings in their young, and as soon as metamorphosis was acheived, those young flew to the window and crept upward on the glass, looking for a new home. If such creatures have powers of adaptation, isn’t it logical that man should be able to meet and rise above whatever confronts him?
We are told, “They that wait for Jehovah shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not be faint.” To wait upon Jehovah does not mean to sit and do nothing or just expect that everything will work out all right and that God will provide. That is hardly a realistic approach. After we have done all we are able to do, when we have given our best efforts, then we have no need to worry or fear. If more is needed, it will come according to our consciousness.
We must know that all the help of God that is necessary to solve any given problem, to meet any need, is right where the problem or need is. The supply of God is always where we are and what we need. It isn’t that God has an answer and that if our supplications strike Him in the right way He will send it; God doesn’t have an answer...God is the answer. God does not have substance to distribute...God is substance. God does not have health, healing, vitality... God is these things. He is perfect life. Our goal should be to establish in consciousness a sense of oneness with the infinite resource and substance of God.
Prayer is an unfailing antidote to worry and fear. Paul teaches: “In nothing be anxious; in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” This is to say, don’t worry about your problem, pray about it. The aftermath of worry is depletion; the aftermath of prayer is inspiration and new strength. Your requests are made known to God by the lifting of your thoughts to a higher level, and by providing a receptive channel through which the activity of God may do its perfect work in you.
Much that passes for prayer is really concentrated worry. Real prayer is a letting go; you release the problem entirely, and never indulge in an orgy of worry comingled with prayer. Get on the side of the solution rather than on the side of the problem. Know that God is the one and only power, feel a sense of oneness with Him. Have faith that you will remain in tune with this process which is even now guiding, leading, lifting, filling and thrilling you with limitless, constant activity.
© 1975, by Eric Butterworth